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Naturwissenschaften. 2012 Dec;99(12):1063-6. doi: 10.1007/s00114-012-0980-7. Epub 2012 Oct 21.

Visual prey detection by near-infrared cues in a fish.

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Institute for Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, University of Bonn, An der Immenburg 1, 53121, Bonn, Germany.


Many animal species are able to perceive light wavelengths beyond those visible to humans. While numerous species are additionally sensitive to short wavelengths (UV), long wavelengths such as the near-infrared spectrum (NIR) are supposed to be unsuitable for visual perception. Here, we experimentally show that under exclusive NIR illumination, the cichlid fish Pelvicachromis taeniatus displays a clear foraging response towards NIR reflecting prey. Additional control experiments without prey indicate that the observed behavior is not a mere response to the NIR environment. These results give first evidence for NIR visual sensitivity in a functional context and thus challenge the current view about NIR perception.

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